tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC August 24, 2009 9:00pm-10:00pm EDT
there are two standards, is what he's done at that house that night considered possibly medical malpractice because of the fact it wasn't done in a clinic? does it cross the line into criminal behavior? but the key is you have the first doctor stepping forward in a long time who sails by tys by i'm going to cut you back and get you off of this. in the course of that jackson dies on your watch or as murray tells me i'm the last man standing. unfortunately because he is in that position that's where i think law enforcement will come down on top of him. >> it's interesting because da p friend of jackson was on the show and he said he tried to get help for jackson and the system protected the doctors he called enablers and pushers. ultimately could that break the system he described? >> he is absolutely right and unfortunately i think it could dent it but not break it. years ago in 1977 we were talking about elvis's death, dr. nick, his doctor had given 10,000 prescriptions in the
final month of elvis's life, 10,000 pills in elvis's name. everyone thought that would be the end of the prescribing and enabling doctors. here we are 32 years later talking about it in light of michael jackson's death. so it's going to keep going on. >> unfortunately, i think you're right especially in that context. gerald posner chief investigative reporter for the daily beast and author of many fine books. great thanks for your time. that is "countdown" for this the 2,307th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in iraq. keith olbermann and as john charles daly used to sign off, good night and a good tomorrow. now to analyze the gop's new patients bill of rights that defends the kind of health care the president is proposing, ladies and gentlemen, sitting in for rachel maddow, here is allison stewart. >> good evening. thanks so much to you. unfortunately rachel is officially under the weather tonight. we'll do our very best to keep the candle burning. we have a loaded show with big
names. we'll have insight on the release of the cia report and dr. howard dean will be here to discuss the rnc's latest health care reform foray and we'll weed whack through the latest antireform myths about the va health care. we'll begin with what's called the big kahuna on this show, a cia report detailing interrogation techniques including torture against prisoners in u.s. custody. the heavily anticipated report was finally made public today after months of delay and the details are significant and kind of gross. the now declassified report is still extremely redacted so large portions look something like this. but the pages that are not redacted, well, they detail incidents that are previewed in the report's table of contents with sections including hand gun and power drills, threats, smoke, and mock executions. what follows are fairly
startling accounts of unauthorized interrogation techniques used by cia interrogators, often without the approval of anyone in washington. the report defines torture as an act, quote, intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain and suffering. it then proceeds to detail incidents of physical and mental abuse. in terms of physical abuse the report describes one incident where an officer used a pressure point technique, quote, with both of his hands on the detainee's neck the officer manipulated his finger to restrict the detainee's carotid artery, the artery which supplies the brain with oxygenated blood. a second officer watched his eyes to the point that the detainee would nod and start to pass out. then the officer shook the detainee to wake him. this process was repeated for a total of three applications on the detainee. in another incident, the physical abuse was so severe that an afghani detainee wound up dead. quote, an agency independent
contractor who was a paramilitary officer is alleged to have severely beaten the detainee with a large metal flashlight and kicked him during interrogation sessions. the detainee died in custody. in terms of mental abuse, on friday we learned that a hand gun and a power drill were used to threaten prisoners. today we learned one detainee who was allegedly told his mother would be sexually assaulted in front of him if he didn't cooperate. the interrogator in question denies ever making that threat. in another incident, quote, interrogator said to khalid sheik muhammad that if anything else happens in the united states, quote, we're going to kill your children. this brought to light another potentially significant detail. earlier this year it was revealed khalid sheik muhammad was waterboarded 183 times in one month. today we learned where executive approval for that waterboarding came from, quote, according to
the cia general counsel the attorney general acknowledged he is fully aware of the repetitive use of the waterboard and that cia is well within the scope of the doj opinion that the authority given to cia by that opinion. the attorney general was informed, the waterboard had been used 119 times on a single individual. the attorney general at the time was john ashcroft. the current attorney generalnno has appointed a federal prosecutor to look into whether cia interrogators violated federal laws. the conclusion of the 2000 report released today appears to address that question. quote the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the agency under the ctc program are inconsistent with the public policy positions that the united states has taken regarding human rights. unauthorized interrogation techniques were used. joining us now is our msnbc contributor and a "newsweek"
correspondent michael isikoff who has been combing through the details of the just released document. thank you for your time. >> good to be with you. >> this is a big question after a day with a big document but what is the most significant takeaway for you? number one, how much in this report conflicted with the public's statements that have been made over the years by bush administration officials and cia directo directors? two years ago michael haden who was the director of the cia for the last years of the bush administration gave a speech to the counsel of foreign relations in which he talked about the detention and interrogation program and said, quote, it is very carefully controlled and lawfully conducted, has been carefully controlled and lawfully conducted. it's kind of hard to square that with what you just documented was in the cia inspector general report that had been presented five years ago in 2004. number two, that this report was generated at the beginning by agency officials within
themselves who had deep concerns about what was going on. i was struck, one officer is quoted in this report saying that he's concerned that he might one day, agency officers might one day end up on some wanted list to appear before the world court for war crimes stemming from these activities. it was the concerns about this came from within the agency. that's what generated this report. and the third thing that lept out at me is what you showed so graphically in your intro, the blacked out page after page. we've only -- we're only seeing about half of the report. i'm told the worst stuff is in those blacked out passages which means we still don't know the full story of this program. >> we're showing it on screen now. i was reading it today and going along and i pick up the report and then you see this, this, this. i'm wondering, is this useful at all considering we've got pages and pages and pages of just big,
blacked out portions? >> well, it's worth remembering that the cia even under its current director leon panetta has fiercely resisted disclosure of this report. it has fought it at every step of the way saying that making public these details would demoralize the agency and make it more difficult to do its job, so to the extent that this came out at all, it was the cia was kicking and screaming and it's only really because a federal judge in response to the aclu lawsuit, freedom of information act lawsuit, that ordering this report to be released that we're seeing this much that we have. >> i want to go back to the first points you mentioned because this report mentions individual acts but it also says there was a lack of guidance and oversight wasn't good enough. and after reading through this, the parts that we can read through, how forceful is the argument that those in charge are accountable for not having minded their own program closely
enough? >> well, accountable to whom is the question. a lot of people are looking to criminal prosecution, the review ordered today by attorney general eric holder, but as you showed in that passage referring to attorney general john ashcroft it's really difficult to bring cases against agency operatives when you have the attorney general of the united states saying, repetitive use of waterboarding is okay with him. he has no problem with it. the justice department has no problem with it. which is why some people say if we're not going to have criminal investigations at the very top, the leadership that authorized these programs, at least have full disclosure so the american public can know the full story of what happened. >> and finally, michael, what does this report say about effectiveness? >> well, a muddy picture. as you know vice president cheney and others who had defended this program have insisted time and again that valuable intelligence was gotten out of this program. you could read passages of this
report and conclude that that is the case, that they did get some, some passages say important intelligence, but others are far more nuanced and measured, saying we don't really know the full story, whether alternative techniques could have been used. i think that a final verdict on that is still yet to come. >> what there is to read, what you can read, is interesting reading certainly. msnbc contributor and "newsweek" investigative correspondent michael isikoff, nice to see you. thanks. >> thank you. the report is out. what remains to be seen is what the obama administration and the congress do about it senator sheldon whitehouse joins us next. later republican party chief michael steele wrote an op-ed for "the washington post." he is very, very, very concerned about things. no one is actually proposing and stride ently in favor of things which already exist. dr. howard dean joins us to talk about that.
first, one more thing about releasing cia documents. remember earlier this year when former vice president dick cheney was on his legacy polishing tour? he made a formal request for the release of documents that he said proved torture worked. >> when you've got memos out there that show precisely how much was achieved and how lives were saved as a result of these policies, they won't release those. >> oh, but now they will. according to greg sergeant at the plum line who says the cia confirmed it would release those documents, director leon panetta e-mailed a note to cia employees confirming two documents from 2004 and 2005 will be released. he just didn't say that they were the ones cheney requested so i guess we'll have to wait and see when we see them.
a book he thought the bush administration used political considerations in its assessment of the terrorist threat level just before the 2004 election. since then a parade of former bush administration figures have rolled in to blast tom ridge. among the administration defenders was president bush's former homeland security advisor. ms. townsend denied there was any political calculus to the threat level this way. >> the only discussions i recall were on the margins of that. there was concern that if we -- if the intelligence supported raising the threat level it might actually rebound to the detriment of president bush because people might perceive it being political. >> so to clarify it wasn't political because we didn't consider the political benefit only the political cost. okay. then not political at all. not. we'll be back.
and so for americans who have wondered and now learned what was done to prisoners during the bush administration, would logically have this followup question. what is the obama administration going to do about it? what will be done to those who seem to have broken the law in the past? what will be done going forward to restore the rule of law in our prosecution in counterterrorism. today the beginnings of answers. attorney general eric holder announced the justice department will investigate the cia over interrogation methods saying, quote, i have concluded that the information known to me warrants opening a preliminary review into whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation of specific detainees at overseas locations. in the same statement mr. holder announced he is appointing federal prosecutor john durham as the new special prosecutor to
investigate allegations that cia agents tortured prisoners during interrogations. on first blush, that decision would appear to contradict president obama's comments as his administration began. >> for those who carried out some of these operations within the four corners of legal opinions or guidance that had been provided from the white house, i do not think it's appropriate for them to be prosecuted. >> in another development today president obama has approved the creation of a new team to question key terrorism suspects. the unit will be called the high valued detainee interrogation group or the hig. it will be housed at the fbi but will be overseen by the president's national security council formally ending the cia's primary role of questioning high level prisoners and giving the white house direct oversight which might cause involuntary eyebrow raising among people who thought
the bush administration gave itself too much power in these matters. we also learned the obama administration will continue the bush policy of extraordinary rendition, the practice of sending terror suspects to prisons in third party countries for interrogation. senior obama advisors say this administration's rendition policy is different from the bush administration's because the state department will have a larger role in assuring that transferred prisoners will not be abused. still, many human rights advocates have condemned the decision. the same folks who expected president obama to correct the country's constitutional course may have experienced further involuntary eyebrow raising. joining us now is democratic senator sheldon whitehouse a member of the senate judiciary and intelligence committees. thank you so much for taking the time tonight. >> glad to be with you, alison. >> i know you have been calling for investigations into this for months and finally after seven months in office the obama administration will investigate the possible crimes. what's your reaction to the decision and its timing?
>> i think it's a great relief, a great moment for america as a country. we finally have seen the rule of law brought forward in a way that it is clear and direct on this situation, which has been so sort of poisoned with personalities and politics and propaganda. it's a first kind of clear, bright light and i couldn't be happier or more relieved. >> is this a wide enough investigation? do you think it should include not just those who carried out the alleged crimes but those more senior administration officials who sanctioned the program? >> i think that the department of justice is a very professional organization and that john durham is a very professional prosecutor and i am fully confident that once they are looking at this area they will follow the evidence wherever it leads. >> can you tell me what you know about mr. durham? i understand he is quite
publicity shy. >> i used to bump into him when i was the u.s. attorney in rhode island and he was in the u.s. attorney's office in connecticut. and we worked on some cases of common jurisdiction together in the organized crime strike force. and he's very well regarded by his peers. he's a very calm, steady, professional career department of justice prosecutor. he's i think a first rate choice and he's got a very good grounding in this because he has been doing the investigation into the destruction of the torture tapes. >> how will attorney holder's investigation affect the ongoing work of the senate committee investigation into torture? >> i think they can go very comfortably in parallel. because of the classified nature of what the intelligence committee is doing there isn't a lot of danger of us sort of poisoning the public arena for a
potential trial down the road. now that the potential criminal investigation is going forward we need to make sure we in the intelligence committee are cooperating with the department of justice and as they ask us for investigative reasons to steer away from certain things and let them have the first crack at witnesses and so forth, there is good reason to do that and we need to be respectful of the department's process. >> let me ask you about this new high value detainee interrogation group to be housed at the fbi and overseen by the national security council, not the cia. can you explain the significance of this? why is that so significant? >> it's significant, i think, because it brings for the first time a very rigorous and serious overview to our interrogation of high value detainees. if you set aside all of the spin
and all of the nonsense that you heard out of the top layers of the bush administration, what you really saw was for a lot of these high value detainees you saw very amateurish investigation by people who knew nothing about al qaeda, who knew nothing about interrogation, who had familiarity with antique techniques used by brutal tyrant regimes for propaganda purposes not for intelligence gathering purposes and were put for reasons that are still not adequately explained into high value interrogations. we know from testimony before the senate judiciary committee that at least one very productive investigation was interrupted and probably ruined by the intervention of the amateurish and brutal techniques into an investigation, an interrogation that was generating absolutely first class interrogation for our country. >> has today's report and news affected your view about where we are and where we're headed in
getting accountability for what happened during the previous administration? >> i think all of this is a step in the right direction. i think that between the senate intelligence committee investigation, the exceptional work that chairman levin has done with his armed services committee, the work of the department of justice to date and obviously now continuing under this expanded authority and the continuing general interest i still think that the day of a thoughtful, thorough commission to look back and figure out what the heck went wrong here, why we got so far down this path before cooler heads prevailed, and what the damage was and how we can prevent it from happening again is an important goal and i think we'll end up in that place. >> senator sheldon whitehouse of my former home state of rhode island, thank you so much for your time tonight. >> thank you, alison. first president obama favored death panels to pull the
plug on grandma, except he doesn't. now the president apparently wants to encourage veterans to move it on along to the big barracks in the sky. navy veteran and u.s. congressman joe sustak joins us in a moment to help debunk the latest scare tactic being used to keep the health system as it is. if chuck norris wasn't bad ass enough to scare you into opposing the obama administration would hulk hogan do? that's next. stay with us. (announcer) take your time to find the right time
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chairman of the republican party with quite a bit of wrong information. that's on the way. and first taxes, now death. the new attempt by the right wing to garner votes from the veteran constituency. that's all ahead. but first, time for a couple holy mackerel stories in today's news. we begin with the anger in the united states and in britain over the early release of abdul baset al megrahi from a scottish prison. al megrahi a former libyan intelligence agent is the only person ever convicted in the 19 1988 bombing of pan am flight 103 over lockerbie. all 259 people onboard and 11 people on the ground were killed. in 2001 he was convicted of 270 counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison. on thursday after just eight years the scotts freed al megrahi as part of a policy known as compassionate grounds. he is terminally ill with prostate cancer. in addition to the anger and frustration felt by the victims'
families about his release and the welcome home in triply there are conspiracy theories running wild. a theory where the british government led by the labor party and the scottish government clueded to free thim. there are problems with these theories. political observers have pointed out the scottish national party and the labor party are bitter rivals and it is unlikely they trust each other enough to conspire in something so explosive. others continue to believe it including former u.n. ambassador john bolton who accuses the son of the libyan leader muammar gadhafi of being in on the deal. he says even worse the president of the libyan british business council and gadhafi's son have both essentially confirmed that megrahi's release was intended to facilitate enhanced
commercial relationships. the administration denies any charge of political deals in the case and we'll keep you posted. next up more uk news. london is one of the most watched cities in the world. about 8 million people live in london and they are surveilled by 1 million closed circuit television cameras. that's one surveillance camera to watch every eight londoners. so what do residents get in return for sacrificing privacy and roughly $820 million spent nationwide? well you would think they would get a little added security. but an internal police report has found that for every thousand cameras only one crime was solved last year. one crime solved and 999 tapes of tourists trying to make guards at buckingham palace crack a smile. and your final tea party news for today, or is it your former wrestler turned reality star news? hulk hogan the former wrestler known for his biceps, skin tight spandex, head banned and vh1 reality show "hogan knows best"
is getting political. this weekend mr. hogan made an appearance at a tea party in orlando, florida but not there as a former wrestler or reality show star or even as a citizen. he was there as a pitchman. >> we've got a website called guaranteed lower property tax.com and we guarantee you if you go to the website or go to the booth in the back, if you come to us and give us your information, we guarantee that we can lower your property tax. >> the only difference between this and mr. hogan's previous careers being the pitchman for an antitax website will never, ever require him to wear tights or oil up his entire body. i think. perhaps someone should double check that with joe the plumber. (announcer) we understand. you need to save money.
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body wash from olay. tone enriching ribbons. two separate ribbons. the white cleanses. the gold moisturizes and has a touch of mineral shimmer to enhance skin's tone. olay tone enriching body wash. for skin that shimmers. we have a little breaking news tonight straight from the rachel maddow show, political irony bureau. the republican party is now officially and we assume intentionally agreeing with the democrats on health care reform.
an outline for a senior health care bill of rights has been recently posted on the republican national committee's website and rnc chair michael steele wrote an op-ed for today's "the washington post" to promote it. both the op-ed and the sabcor rail against democrats in the very special fear mongering senior citizen scaring way that has become the signature of the opposition to health care reform this summer. but what mr. steele and the rnc are attacking isn't actually proposed by democrats and much of what they're arguing in favor of is being proposed by democrats. the top billed mission of the rnc's senior health care bill of rights is to protect medicare from cutbacks. yes, michael steele is casting himself as the defender of medicare, a great big government run single payor health care program. and while mr. steele himself said in 2006 he would consider cutting medicare, the health care reform proposals the democrats are promoting do not.
in fact, democratic congressman anthony weiner of new york argued just today on this very network that not only should we protect medicare, we should expand it into a single payor system that provides health care for everyone so everybody agrees medicare is great. can we keep it, mom? the second tenet of the rnc bill of rights is to prohibit government from getting between seniors and their doctors. but here's the thing. the health care reform bill being considered in congress right now do not get between seniors and their doctors. nothing in the current plan requires that government will tell seniors which doctor to see or what treatment to get but somebody has to pay for the doctors and the treatments and that is where the proponents of reform would like the government to step in. between patients and doctors in order to carry payment. the third item on the republicans' health care manifesto, prohibit efforts to ration health care based on ah. fighting against rationing health care for seniors is a noble and daring position to
take. no one on either side of the aisle is thinking about, talking about, thinking about talking about rationing care. plus, number four, is to prevent government from interfering with end of life care discussions. if you're conspiracy theory spidey sense is going off right now because that is a slightly more nuanced version of the mantra health care reform is going to kill your grandma. nobody wants to kill your grand m.a. the fifth principle is to ensure seniors can keep their current coverage which is basically a retread of the earlier commitment to protect medicare. quote, republicans believe that seniors should not be targeted by a government run health care bill and forced out of their current medicare coverage. in other words, the regimes are trying to use a giant successful and hugely popular government run health care program to argue against government funded health care. with arguments like these who needs consensus? just sign the bill. joining us now former vermont governor and democratic national chairman dr. howard dean. thanks for being with us.
>> thanks for having me on. >> so why do you think michael steele is spending so much time sticking up for medicare? >> you know, i don't know but i'm glad he is because i think that the core of the public insurance option is very like medicare. it is a program you can't lose your insurance, can't be kicked off, you don't have insurance bureaucrats between you and your doctor. it works for everybody. it's cheaper than private health insurance and if you lose your job you still have it. if you move you still have it. medicare sounds pretty good and i'm glad michael is finally onboard. i think it's great. >> the big main stream headlines of the last week have been that the president plans to go it alone for health care reform if in fact he and his party push through reform without republicans, what would the real risk be given that the official rnc bill of rights appears to be in lock step with the democratic proposal? >> there is no risk. look, all the really great programs in american history, social security, was done without republicans. medicare was done without republican support until the last vote where they realized
they had to get onboard. so a lot of the things that have been done that have helped seniors in particular have been done without republican support at all and it's not going to be any political penalty. the only political penalty suffered will be if we don't pass a bill and the republicans know that and that's why they're not interested in helping pass the bill. >> why do you think there has been such a concentrated effort among republicans to target seniors in the debate? is it just a political calculation because they are so politically active and seniors vote? >> sure. it's just political. the majority of seniors did not vote for president obama. they think this is a group where they can sow doubt and seniors, you know, there are some seniors, certainly not the majority, who don't understand that medicare is actually a government program. and this is aimed at them. the honest truth is actually i hate to be mean to any of the newspapers but not that many people read the editorial page of "the washington post" so i don't think michael's article is going to get him very far. >> i have a friend who's a doctor in arizona who shared a story with me that he's had patients come in, elderly
patients who say this health care plan is out to get me. they want to take my plan away. they're trying to kill me. the message is working in some way. why? >> well, because some of those are probably people who probably listen to republican propaganda but republicans are very good at propaganda. they're extremely skilled in opposition. the problem is they just can't govern because governing you actually have to tell the truth if gairg to you're going to be successful. they weren't in the last eight years and aren't likely to be as long as they keep making stuff up. senator grassley the other day was complaining about the provision to kill your grand m.a. he voted for that provision. it doesn't do anything like killing your grandma but allows people to get the end of life counseling they deserve. it was sensible and passed when the republicans were in the majority and now they're trying to pretend that they had nothing to do with it and this is terrible. it's nonsense. i mean, when i was growing up in this country republicans and democrats could actually sit down and have a sane
conversation. you might not agree but you'd get stuff done. this shrinking republican party is just determined to undermine president obama and, unfortunately, you have to undermine the country in order to undermine the president. i think it's too bad. >> let's go back to the thing everybody loves, medicare, which is a single payor system. >> sure. government run single payor. >> even the public option is in trouble, though at this point of the debate but given this adoration for medicare that seems to come out who besides insurance companies argues against single payor and why? >> well look. i would argue against forcing everybody into medicare. i don't think anybody is saying you should do that. the republicans are trying to pretend we're going to -- first of all they're going to pretend we're going to force everybody into medicare and then say how terrible medicare is and now they say how great medicare is. the problem is they don't have much facts on their side and the fact of the matter is that what president obama wants to do is give you a choice. you can have the same choice that people over 65 have. you could be in medicare or
something like it, a public option, or have your private insurance as you like it. you get that choice. that's what this bill is about. we're not asking congress to reform health care. we're asking the congress to give the opportunity for americans to reform health care at the pace they desire. let them choose what's right for their family and stop forcing them into these insurance companies which will kick them out if they get sick which don't insure them if they're ill, which could get rid of them if they lose their jobs. let's give people the opportunity to run in and sign up for something like medicare. that's what the public insurance option is, is something like medicare. and you get a choice. keep what you've got, get something else in the private system. we'll help you if you don't have enough money. you can also take that money and get into something that's worked out pretty darned well for people over 65. >> former vermont governor and dnc chair howard dean thanks for taking the time tonight. >> thank you. thanks a lot. >> after mounting a very scary campaign to persuade the elderly into thinking bad things are
going to happen with their health care the leave it just like it is crowd has moved onto another constituency, veterans. you've heard of the nonexist ent death panels. how about this, a claim of a death book allegedly written to convince men and women who fought for the country to consider their options. congressman joe sestak is next. first, those who perpetuate the health care reform is a plot that can kill your grandma theory are often called the deathers. their name is a play on the people known as the birthers who believe the thoroughly debunked claim that president obama was not actually born in the united states and is therefore not really the president at all. both theories are off the charts in terms of plausibility but neither movement is limited to shouting the fringes of town hall meetings. and today for those of you keeping track at home we can add another member of congress to the birther crowd. republican congressman trent franks of arizona held a town hall meeting over the weekend. according to the mohave daily
news he told the crowd there's a lot of, quote, conflicting evidence about obama's citizenship and that he's considering filing a lawsuit. congressman franks, i don't know how to tell you this but obama's birth certificate is so mid july. the in thing nowadays is scaring seniors. try and keep up. but i've still got room for the internet. with my new netbook from at&t. with its built-in 3g network, it's fast and small, so it goes places other laptops can't. i'm bill kurtis, and wherever i go, i've got plenty of room for the internet. and the nation's fastest 3g network. gun it, mick. (announcer) sign up today and get a netbook for $199.99 after mail-in rebate. with built-in access to the nation's fastest 3g network. only from at&t.
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today is the last day for rach rachel's favorite program of the summer, cash for clunkers, and while we wait to see if cash for clunkers gets another infusion of cash there is a similar program on the fall schedule for refrigerators. cash for cold making machines and dish washing machines and clothes washing machines. thanks to the stimulus program the government will offer rebates up to $200 for the purchase of high efficiency household appliances than time there are no trade-ins all of which could be great news for appliance makers and great news
constituency, military vierneisel. more than a week ago the rachel maddow show expose ad scare tactic promulgated by republican congressman stephen buyer. he wanted everyone to know health care reform means more taxes for veterans. congressman sestak joined rachel to debunk that bit of business but you won't spit your line through your nose and be surprise today learn higher taxes weren't the latest scare tactic. the latest reason that veterans and all of us who support them should oppose reform? it's something that fear mongering word smiths called a death book for veterans. it's like a death panel in that death is the goal except it's a book not a panel and in an editorial in "the wall street journal" jim towey once the head of the office of faith-based initiatives under president george w. bush claimed america's veterans are being xee ining st
ending their lives by a quote death book. it has a hurry up and die message with guilt inducing scenarios such as i can no longer contribute to my family's well being. i am a severe financial burden on my family end quote. there is a book about end of life care for veterans. what does the booklet titled "your life choices" actually say? if you have fears about being a burden, explore these feelings about those who care for you. family members often view caring for loved ones as an honor not a burden end quote. for an evil plot to kill our veterans it doesn't sound evil or particularly plotty but a certain former vice presidential candidate and former half-term alaska governor posted the editorial on her facebook page and then it wound up on the sunday morning talk smorgasboard. >> we'll do something different here today. usually we discuss the news but today we're going to tell you about something you may never have heard about. what critics are calling "the death book." >> ah, critics.
critics who ignore certain critical information about the end of life pamphlet for veterans. for one the bush administration va initiative issued a guidebook as the type of document that should be given to patients who want help drafting living wills. it's not new. jim towey who invented the premise the booklet encourages euthanasia for soldiers runs an organization known as aging with dignity and that organization has a document titled "five wishes" which is a lot like the va's "your life choices." it's shorter but is very similar. mr. towey has reportedly been trying to sell his "five wishes" document to the va so how does the death book scare tactic compare to the death panel approach? joining us now is democratic joining us is a retired u.s. navy rear admiral and the highest former ranking military officer to serve in congress. he is challenging arlen specter for his senate seat in pennsylvania. thank you for your time tonight.
>> good to be here. >> what is this booklet to council seriously-ill veterans? what is your reaction to how it is being used now politically? >> frankly, i'm outraged. i think it is absolutely inexcusable to even begin to put any fear in veterans that this book is other than what it is, a very sane, sensible guide for individuals to walk through or think through such as living wills or who might i turn to to make those decisions. for those who were in the bush administration trying to scare veterans would just sit back and see where it guided them to, it guided them to other places in the veterans' administration such as in 2003, the bush administration denied priority-8 veterans, those who make more than $29,000, now 1 million priority veterans are forbidden to get any type of health care
from the v.a. so underresourced, the veterans administration, there is a backlog of 600,000 disability claims. when an amendment was proposed in the senate for an additional $7.5 billion to make up for the shortfall in medical assistance funding for the v.a., it was turned down by the republican-led senate. my issue is this, our veterans deserve so much. they shouldn't be worrying about care givers, those who take time to take care of those coming back from iraq with traumatic injuries, lose their jobs purposefully so they can take care of their loved ones. we passed a bill in the house that sits in the senate waiting to be moved forward to take care of our veterans better. these scare tactics with no base whatsoever is inexcusable. >> i hope my next question doesn't sound cold or particularly cynical, but why target veterans? is this a voting block in flux
or up for grabs? >> i don't believe so at all. i think there is this belief among some that are veterans are often taken with those that potentially might appear a bit more conservative. frankly, i disagree. if there is anything i learned in the military is that they're very independent, open-minded, thoughtful group. those who are in our military and now have retired or left the service actually respect candor and they respect those that speak without trying to politicalize who they are. the greatest brotherhood, sisterhood i was ever a part of are veterans. that memory having served together finds the grandest home of all and that's the home in the hearts of brave men and women. those that tend to abuse, misuse, politicalize or use as political football veterans, i think that type of scare tactic
is absolutely inexcusable and won't be accepted by any veterans' organization. i speak as one. >> i want to get one more question in here and talk about the issue of tri-care that covers veterans' health benefits. rnc chairman michael steele suggested it needed preserving or protecting under this health care debate. is tri-care in trouble? >> it is not in trouble. session 202 of the health care reform bill specifically lays out the veterans administration bill of tri-care, whether retired or active, it is sacrosanct. in the last four years of the bush administration, every year the republican executive branch came forward trying to raise the cost of tri-care for retirees under tri-care. we finally this year didn't get an increase on that because we owe those who are active and retired.
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